Abstraction, reality and thanks at Christmas

[Y]ou must ensure that the effects of your policies are seen only as abstractions rather than as the suffering of real people.

So notes Chris, and he’s absolutely right.

Take the “welfare” state, for example: it’s not just for disabled people or immigrants, but (depending on your view of things), for every young person (Child Trust Funds), every family (Child Tax Credits) and every older person (the pension, considerable numbers receiving Attendance Allowance). But our debates and coverage hardly ever note this, so that a continual erosion of the welfare state is both philosophically and politically possible.

The bit of Chris’s post I particularly liked is that this applies just as much to modern management, which:

deals largely in symbols and abstractions…[with] little direct contact with the organization’s workers, with the production of its goods or services, or with its customers.

I don’t know why, but the “thanking” of staff who work in sectors like health and social care at Christmas time has always slightly annoyed me. Reflecting on this in the context of management abstractions, I wonder if my annoyance is because this thanking reflects the distance between managers and staff, so that managers can quickly and easily say “thanks” at no personal cost, whilst staff actually have to do the 10-hour shift on Christmas Day?



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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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